Did the web kill off the lads mag?

I imagine that media commentators will be all over this story very soon, but if you haven’t heard Media Week is claiming that IPC is trying to sell iconic lads mag Loaded. The full story is here http://mediaweek.co.uk/news/1023290/IPC-sell-UKs-original-lads-mag-Loaded/

The key bit is

‘Loaded started 2000 with average six-monthly circulations of 350,000, but within two years and in the face of the digital revolution, this had been eroded by nearly 20% and by 2005, it had slipped 35% to 230,000.

A series of revamps and digital brand extensions followed, but IPC has been unable to stem the gradual erosion of the print title, which fell below 100,000 copies for the first time at the start of 2008.

Loaded’s circulation hit a new low in last week’s ABCs for the first six months of 2010, down 26.3% year on year and 24.8% during the period, to just 53,591 copies’

Apparently the title is likely to be bought by an outfit called Vitality Publishing which owns the gay mag Attitude. The company was having problems of its own a few months back http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jun/02/attitude-womens-fitness-sold but I guess it must have found some investment since then.

Although sales of magazines have been plummeting since 2005 – see above chart which shows actively purchased mags – some sectors have fared worse than others. http://paidcontent.co.uk/article/419-the-10-year-view-magazine-sales-close-to… The real disaster has been for lad’s mags – see the figures here http://www.mediaweek.co.uk/news/1022056/MAGAZINE-ABCs-Loaded-drops-263-mens-l… which have suffered what looks like an irreversible decline.

So why have lads mags sales dropped while other sectors (fashion, high-end mags) held their own?

I suspect that commentators will talk of a shift away from the lad cutlure of the 90s and I guess this is partially true. The real reason though for the decline of lad’s mags is simply because the web serves young male readers so well.

Loaded and its rivals always majored on pictures of scantily clad women. Why buy a mag when the web is awash with them, not least on lads mag websites? The more gruesome/gratuitous tales the mags specialised in can be found on Fark, Gawker and Anorak and mainstream newspapers, and sites like Whoateallthepies, Caught Offside and The Spoiler, are taking care of the quirkier side of sports coverage.

There really is no point in buying a monthly magazine when all that content is available elsewhere for free.

Perhaps men have once again gravitated back to reading primarily about their core interests. The web boasts music sites in every niche possible, thousands of gadget blogs and some innovative car and sports sites. And for all the talk of the death of the web those sites and those passionate readers aren’t going anywhere.

So enjoy all those articles about how men have changed in the last decade. Personally I don’t think they have changed that much. IMO they are still reading the same type of content, it is just that it is online.

Update IPC selling off 28 titles http://www.brandrepublic.com/news/1023346/more-100-jobs-line-ipc-sells-specia…

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